Mazen Salhi | Engineer Canada
November 2nd, 2007

Re: ‘Syria's foreign policy

Since moving to Canada last year, the word ‚??news‚?Ě has almost taken a new meaning for me. News over here consistently seems to mean little more than the weather, tax laws, traffic jams, and election campaigns. But that is hardly a surprise for a country like Canada. with only one country sharing its borders, a young history, enormous resources and a stable democratic system, the fallouts of accumulative human competition, fears and conflicts have not yet caught up with Canada. It will be indeed interesting to see how Canada performs against those inevitable forces in the future, but that‚??s another story.

For better or for worse, Syria does not enjoy such abstractness. It is a country with a heavy burden of history and religion on its shoulders. A country with limited resources yet a rapidly growing population, and one that shares its borders with five trouble-bound states, and still has to worry about being at the cross hairs of an unpredictable superpower. It has occupied lands, yet still houses hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees, two million Iraqis, and last year it also took in some seven hundred thousand Lebanese. The strain is not helped by the seemingly incurable corruption that infests most of its institutions. And let‚??s not forget the burden of history, which Syria has got tons of. So much so that it’s almost crushing its future.

For example, on a typical drive from Aleppo to Damascus (the world’s two oldest continuously inhabited cities), travelers stop at Ma‚??arra for breakfast. This is where the first Crusade (mostly French) ran out of food on their way to Jerusalem, and ended up barbecuing local children for dinner. Down near Idlib is the tomb of the fifth Arab Muslim Caliph Omar bin Abdelaziz of the powerful Omayyad state which once ruled the Islamic world from Damascus… the capital of an empire that extended from India to Spain. Then you reach Maaloula, a little Christian town whose inhabitants are the only group of people in the world who still speak Aramaic, the same language that Jesus spoke.

Even the genetic pool carries remnants of this ‚??rich‚?Ě history. The kids playing by the road side in this village are dark and curly haired, while their peers a few miles down the road are golden blond. The social and cultural mosaic is as colorful and diverse as the huge two thousand year old wall mosaics that were once the landscaping rage in this land.

But complex realities are not all bad. The world is a complex and diverse place to start with, and countries that fully realize that fact and feel its implications tend to be less reckless in their choices. On the other hand, populations and leaders that think they’re super unique and detached from the different “others” tend to be more exclusive, elitist and hostile toward those they see as infidels, goyems, coloured, or plain non-democratic, since Democracy is the new religion.

When one puts all of this in perspective, I think it would be fair to say that the modern Syrian state has to a good extent succeeded in affirming the country‚??s identity, celebrating its diversity yet maintaining a distinct common character. Syrian society can in fact make credible claims to being a tolerant and successfully diverse culture. Modern Syria has acted strongly against radical fundamentalist movements. It protected the Christians of Lebanon from potential uprooting by extremist forces in Lebanon (some of whom are preaching about peace, freedom and independence today,) and it opposed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Nevertheless, the gravity of religion, political history and oil companies is always looming overhead when making decisions about the country‚??s regional and international political relations.

From all of the above, we can pretty much be certain that no matter how hostile the Saudis grow towards Syria, the Syrian government cannot break it with Saudi Arabia, which houses Mecca and Medina and influences the lives of a great many Syrians through religion and sheer economics. Also, no matter how costly the influx of Iraqi refugees may be on the Syrian infrastructure, Syria cannot afford to turn its back on them, with so much in common with the Iraqi people. And no matter what lows the likes of Junblat – who suggested in Washington recently to send car bombs to Damascus – sink to in Lebanon, Syria cannot and should not break it with Lebanon either. Decision trees are as complex as the realities in the land that gave the world agriculture.

So much for not reaching the point of no return with these countries, but what about active diplomacy and the right allocation of priorities? Well, to start with, there is no doubt that the times are dangerous and literally anything can happen. The first priority should be to avoid a large scale war that could be devastating to the country. I think the regime is right about emphasizing relations with countries that make their own decisions. In that sense, it is vital for Syria to maintain and promote excellent relations with Russia, Iran, Turkey, China, India, the European Union and Canada.

Syria absolutely must build and maintain economical, military, and even cultural and social ties with these countries. I also think that Syria should work to restore and nourish its historical ties with Egypt. Egypt shares many similarities with Syria and the two countries have much more in common than at odds. Egypt can be key to Syria‚??s future and I‚??m afraid that not enough is being done on that front.

As for the Jolan Heights, they‚??re not going anywhere. Syria must absolutely not give up its right to the full land, but there‚??s no need to start a war. She must, however, be very ready to fight a war that might become forced on her.

One thing that I think the regime is severely lacking vis-√ -vis ‚??other countries,‚?Ě is the use of soft power, and in particular the media. No matter how I think about it, I cannot find any excuse for leaving the arena empty for the almost exclusively anti-Syrian Arab media. The media makes and maintains public opinion. Public opinion translates into mass decisions that eventually heavily impact the well being of the country. Public opinion manifests itself in decisions on strategic and personal investments in the country, on workforce outward or inward immigration, on the population‚??s political orientation, and on public resistance or susceptibility to the relentless foreign influence. As an instrument of international relations, I think that Syria should play an active role in Arab media and not leave the stage totally unattended as it is doing today. The media is one layer in the overall complex reality of relations with each of those countries, just as economics, diplomacy and the military are layers as well.
It is a weakness to have vacuum at any layer.

No one knows what will happen in the coming few months or years. The US may come back to its senses and stop resorting to deadly force to solve its issues with smaller, weaker countries. Or it may choose to flex its muscles yet another time around, with unforeseeable consequences. However, all storms eventually pass, and this is no exception, even though the worst may not have come yet. And when the storm passes, the regional satellites will instantaneously lose steam and start looking down from the high tree they’ve climbed. Whatever it does, Syria must maintain a moral high ground at every major step she makes. And finally, the most important force that the Syrian government should enhance relationships with is its own people, the very essence of its enduring mosaic.

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45 Responses to the Article

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

“When one puts all of this in perspective, I think it would be fair to say that the modern Syrian state has to a good extent succeeded in affirming the country‚??s identity, celebrating its diversity yet maintaining a distinct common character.”

Syria is held together by the oppressive regime of Asad. If what you say is true, why are so many Syrians quite sure that democratization will lead to civil war a la Iraq?

“Syria must maintain a moral high ground at every major step she makes.”

What does this mean, how can a police state maintain any moral high ground?

Mazen Says:

Oh, so Syria is held together by sheer oppression, is it. Sometimes I think the people who bring such claims forward actually believe them.

No one knows exactly what is going on in Iraq. But there are beneficiaries from the violence that is taking place now and it’s not the Iraqi people. Iraq is a country under occupation and all failures under such conditions are the responsibility of the power in charge. Please do not try to prove that the only thing stopping Arabs from killing each other are their oppressive regiems, because that’s just ridiculous, even for something coming from another Israeli guy.

Syria maintains the strategic high moral ground by continuing to protect fellow Arab refugees that you and your friends have caused untold misery. Syria even welcomed Armenian refugees during WWI and they live among us today as equals. It does so by ignoring the likes of your new friend Junblat and keeping the better good of the Lebanese in mind. It keeps the high moral ground by insisting on getting all of its stolen land back no matter what anyone says or does.

This position would be in direct contrast to those that exercise racism and apartheid for living. That herd huge populations into the large concentration camp that is Gaza, and build a wall to try to further isolate themselves. By the way, the wall is a screaming proof of your ideology’s failure. Any population that seeks to isolate itself with a wall is signaling its failure to cope with reality.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Prove me wrong and support democracy in Syria. No you will say, too dangerous. The Sunnis will eat the Alawites alive. In your cowardice, you support a dictatorial regime because you know what the result will be if it lets go.

Syria is the ultimate apartheid state. The Alawites which are 15% control the rest. You may try to hide the facts but the truth hurts. There were 30,000 Jews in Syria in 1947. There are less than 10 now. Why? Because Syria under the Asads is offcially racist. Just ask Tlas and Bashar who killed Jesus.

nihad Says:

i am so excited to read these articles about syria .they are full of great ideas and intellect……..and they are pro syria!

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

No Nihad, they are against Syria and are pro the Asad regime. It is a pity you cannot tell the difference.

Mazen Says:

Of course we support democracy in Syria. Of course we want more freedoms and improvements to the political system. But most Syrians and Arabs have now learned the lesson that talk about democracy is not always what it seems. Democracy (the new religion) as a term has been so abused and exhausted by the US and Israel that it has lost its allure. Besides, the US and Israel have proven many times over that they are not happy with just any democracy. If a democracy produces something they don’t like you call it Terrorist (the new Antichrist). And if a dictatorship is friendly to them then they conveniently call it our friends and allies and jump into bed with it. So what “democracy” are you preaching us about? It doesn’t cut it anymore.

You prove me wrong and allow the democratically elected government in Gaza to function, instead of trying to kill it and punish its population by starvation.

And Syria is the ultimate apartheid state? That would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic of an accusation. I don’t see Syria building a high wall to isolate itself. I don’t see Syria afraid of the mere population growth of Palestinians or any group that resides with in. And I don’t see Syria having roads for Jews and others for non Jews. That would be Israel, if you haven’t been to high to notice.

You project fundamentally depends on the fragmentation of the Arabs, the Iraqis, the Syrians, and even the Lebanese. Your enterprise fundamentally depends on their mismanagement, short sightedness and on little men like Junblat. You should build a statue of Junblat in Tel Aviv.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,

Your Syrian project depends on a police state to keep the Alawites in power and oppress all those that don’t support the Asad regime. Asad does not even let this site be read in Syria.

Your position is so contradictory that it is really amusing. You want democracy, but you support a police state. Pick any model you like. You don’t like the Israeli or American model? Take the Indian one. I am not telling you which model to pick. But for heaven’s sake, do not support the oppressive Asad regime.

Just as when there is democracy in Syria, the Syrians won’t begin to love Israelis, democracy is not a guarantee for peace. I would very much be in facor of peace with a democratic Syria, but if the Syrians don’t want peace, that would be fine with me also.

You are not making Syria a democracy for the US or Israel. You are making it a democracy for the Syrians because you want the Syrians to be able to exploit their full potential. You are not doing me a favor by supporting the Asad regime. You are just hurting yourself and your fellow Syrians.

Mazen Says:

AIG,

I wish it were so abstract as you portray it to be. The point is NOT how democratic a regime may or may not be. Israelis are living much bigger contradictions than the Syrians are. What good is a democracy if it can’t stop racism, apartheid, collective punishment of innocent people, all of which Israel does for living.

Like I told you. flashing the bright light of “democracy” jargon is not blinding anyone’s eyes anymore so you might as well stop it. You’re not fooling anyone.

You might also stop pretending that you care so much about Syrians fulfilling their full potential, while your whole system actually thrives on your adversaries being in perpetual turmoil.

The 30,000 Jews who chose to leave Syria are welcome to come back anytime. Their properties are protected by the Syrian state and many of them still identify very well with Syria. If you were to welcome back the Palestinian refugees that you exiled at gunpoint back their land, then we can start talking.

There is one and only one strategic solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict: The One State Solution. A secular state of all of its citizens, Arab and Jew, where no one will be thrown in the sea and our children can have better futures. If you agree to that, then I will shake your hand as a friend and we can all forget the pains of the past.

Unfortunately, Israel is producing more of the same. More threats of death and destruction as you’re promising us in your own responses here. It is very unhealthy for a people to attain their sense of identity from their ability to kill and destroy. Look at your words: we can destroy Syria’s infrastructure, we can kill Lebanon, we can nuke you to oblivion. It seems that these claims (and they alone) are what’s holding you together and forming your sense of security and identity. If you lose the ability to destroy, you immediately lose balance and everything seems so scary all of a sudden. It need not be. This is no way to live even if you rubber stamp it as DEMOCRATIC.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,

I can sense Bishara clones i.e. Leftist Pan-Arab Nationalist from 10 Km and you are one of them. Ok, keep dreaming your Pan-Arab dream. But why do you always tie your wagon to the most anti-democratic people? First Nasser, then Saddam now Syria. Why is Pan-Arabism worth sacrificing human rights and democracy in the Arab world for? Especially, when all you get is heart break and no democracy?

Israel is not a prefect society but in the last 60 years it has become an economically successful modern western society, ONLY because it is a democracy. Israelis are very average and are not superior to anybody. Our only advantage is the fact that we are a democracy and democracies can much better develop the potential of their citizens. You know this is true. So why are supporting another 60 years of fear and economic stagnation in Syria?

Israelis attain their sense of identity from what they build and not what they destroy. Israel is one of the leading countries in innovation in the world. It seems you attain your sense of identity from dreams, because you support policies that will not lead to accomplishment or advancement.

Your comment that the Jews are welcome back in Syria is really amusing. If they were so welcome and taken care of, why did all of them leave?

Stop blaming Israel for your problems and do something constructive.

Alex Says:

Why did they leave?

because in the 80’s after the “events” of the Muslim Brotherhood gave the regime a serious challenge … Jews felt that even though they trust Hafez Assad competely, they might wake up one day to another leadership in Syria that does not protect Syrian Jews.

THEY love Syria .. THEY pressure Israel to make peace with Syria, THEY mourned Hafez Assad in NJ … THEY returned to meet Bashar in his office and to enjoy a week in Syria and take a look at their own possessions that are still in perfect shape and in under their names and ownership.

And thanks for your advice but … We are doing “something constructive” … Yo are debating the most successful and best educated group of Syrians. I personally invited the most capable and the most honest representatives of all points of view. I did not invite idots or crooks.

But if “a revolution” is the constructive thing you want … we have wiser ideas… they take some time, probably close to the 10 years you suggested .. but you stll want t call us cowards and regime apologists.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Alex,

We debated the issue of the Jews before, and all your statements about the Asads love for the Jews are quickly refuted by the actual situation on the ground: less than 10 Jews left in Syria. Sure, they didn’t leave because of Asad, but because of who might replace him. And they were so loved, that those that left could not take much of their property with them. Give it a rest.

Well, what is your 10 year plan? And it better not start with Israel or the US doing something, because that is a plan for the US or Israel and not for Syria and is an excuse for not doing anything.

Mazen Says:

Thank you Alex, but it’s no use. AIG can sense Pan-Arab Leftists from 10 km away. Yet somehow his elevated “sense” is unable to see the huge holes and contradictions in his rusty, self-serving and selective rhetoric about democracy this and democracy that. Keep banging at it, AIG, only that won’t make it stick.

I agree with you on one thing, though: that we need to work on our own issues and our own problems. We do, and that is the biggest challenge Syria faces. However, we will do that our own way, insisting on improvements but working prudently, peacefully, and independently.

You don’t want to see democracy in Syria. You want perpetual turmoil, civil wars, and sectarian violence. Only then does your system of isolation and apartheid feel secure and in place.

The more you threaten with the use of force (almost all Israelis I’ve talked to have been a hair away from voicing such clear threats,) the more it proves that this is who you really are; brainwashed sailors on an aircraft carrier that are unable to find a better manifestation of their identities. If you have the upper hand to kill and destroy, you’re happy and content and can sleep well. If the Arab can DEFEND themselves (let alone attack you) then you are anxious and insecure. How long can you sustain such a stressful pipe dream? And why do you think you have to?

I’m telling you, it does not have to be this way. We can live together, and we can forget the pains of the past. Acknowledge the wrongdoing you have forged on the Palestinians and correct it, and we can all dismantle the bombs and live in peace. But no, you’re way too innovative to accept that, aren’t you.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
Your view of Israel and Israelis is completely distorted. All I can suggest is visiting Israel and seeing for yourself. You read Ha’aretz and yet you claim we are a brainwashed society? Look at what Israel has achieved in the last 60 years economically and scientifically and tell me with a straight face that Israel idenitiy is about war or destruction. Why are you deluding yourself?

I see that at least you agree that Arabs should look inward to solve your problems. I would be more than happy to find a way to live in peace with Syria once you are a democracy. I do not want any interaction or talks with the Asad regime that in my opinoin does not represent Syrians.

And until you put forward a concrete plan to democratize Syria, your arguments just sound as excuses to keep Asad in power. What is the first step in the 10 year plan? What is the step after that? Be specific. Convince me that you are not supporting the status quo and that you have learned from the mistakes the Pan-Arabsists made in the last 60 years.

Mazen Says:

AIG,

All I’m saying is that the threat to use force to have your way is always there on the minds of most Israelis I’ve talked to. And these are threat that are carried out against unarmed populations without a moment’s thought on your side. This is quite enough for me to form a good idea of who you are, and I’m not denying that there are Israelis who do not accept this attitude, but they are a small minority.

Israel has achieved the position it is at today through two major levers: Arab negativity and regime corruption, and unconditional US support, and again I’m not ignoring other factors contributed by Israelis. But take these two levers out of the equation and you will have very little left and you know that.

You keep banging at the democracy issue and I keep telling you it won’t cut it. You have no credibility whatsoever giving this kind of advice. You are an apartheid racist state and are very happy to jump in bed with dictatorships as long as they submit to your will. The more you use the term democracy, the more damage you cause it, because it is coming from a party that is totally not credible as far as most Arabs and Syrians are concerned.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
Take off your Pan-Arabist blinkers for one moment and read all of what Bishara has to say. As an Israeli, he understands Israel well while being a leftisit Pan-arabist like you and a great supporter of Asad:
http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2004/690/sc4.htm

We cannot have a serious dialogue until you come to grips with what Israel is or is not and what makes it strong relative to the Arabs. The “unconditional” US support started after 67. How quickly you forget that the US handed Nasser his only victory in 56 by forcing Israel to leave the Sinai unconditionally. It is not the major cause for the Israeli position.

Bishara explains well what makes Israel strong: “The diversity of the Zionist polity is not a sign of weakness but of strength. It is indicative of the ability of a people, in spite of their diversity, to organise themselves on the basis of the rules of the democratic game and consensus over an established set of national principles, forged into a cohesive, working entity. The odd thing is that those people who came to Palestine did not come from a single national background or even, frequently, from a democratic culture. Yet, they succeeded in creating a national bond to serve as a basis on which to ground a democratic system for Jews in Israel while more than half a century after the nakba Arab countries are loath to respect the rules of democracy for fear of factionalism.”

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
And as for Arab negativity and corruption, the only cure for that is democracy. Only a free inquiring press and an independent judiciary can keep the executive branch honest. Only when politicians are accountable to the people, will they work for the interest of the people. I think both Mubarak and Asad are unmitigated disasters.

Which makes your whole argument even more puzzling. You should be the first to insist for democratic reforms and not support the status quo.

Mazen Says:

AIG,

We are not debating that democracy is essential to Arab and all countries; this is accepted as far as most Syrians I know including myself. I take Bishara’s points and yours well. Israel is a democracy for its Jewish residents, and that is a big achievement in its own right.

Being a democracy is a necessary but not sufficient step for a system. Many tyrants and butchers were elected democratically from within democratic governments. Practically all of Israel’s PM’s fit in that category, although there are other historic examples. That does not make them any better leaders or countries.

Again and again, we are not debating democracy in this month’s topic, and I am not in support of the status quo in Syria. But I want the change to come in a peaceful way and from within.

Democracy as a cause has been so abused and tarnished with lies and hypocrisy from the West and from Israel that you will find most Syrians and Arabs just not buying it anymore. The examples of lies and double standards abound in the “Moderate” Arab states, and people are just sick of the lies.

I do not trust that you, for one, or your state, are interested in seeing democracy anywhere in the Arab world. YOU are the ones wishing for the status quo to remain indefinitely. You’re just banging at the soft spot of our undemocratic governments because it’s good public relations, and because it’s a big weakness in our portfolio.

Let me see you have the courage to admit that yours is an apartheid racist state that has done many evils to the indigenous people of Palestine and surrounding, and then we can have dialog.

Otherwise if you keep trying to argue that just because the Syrian regime is not democratic that no discussion should even begin about its Foreign Policy (which is the derailed topic of the month,) then this is going to go anywhere.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
Why do you have to trust me or my intentions to institue democracy in the Syria if you think anyway that it is required in Syria? Issues should be judged on their merit irregardless of who brings these points up.

The distance from “the foreign policy of the regime is great” to “the regime should stay in power” is not very large. It is an old Asad trick. You are playing their game and come over like a regime apologist. By even granting that foreign policy can be disassociated from internal policies, you have lost to anti-democratic forces. You have fallen for the “dignity and Palestinian cause” are more important than economice advancement and freedom line. This is a 60 year old trick. Wake up.

Non democracy is surely a big weakness as you say, but what are you doing about it? You are unwilling to discuss it because you think it is a PR trick. That is distorted thinking. You want to bring democracy yourself yet have no realistic plan. Is this a way to treat the most important issue in the Arab world?

The Asads are pursuing a foreign policy that is bad for most Syrians just to stay in power. That is the bottom line.

Mazen Says:

You are not answering any of my points and you’re avoiding to admit your side of the discussion. You have to be a little more creative AIG.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

The discussion is about Syrian foreign policy. What is exactly my side of the discussion that I am avoiding on this subject? I am sticking to the subject. It is you that is trying to avoid discussion by trying to discuss solutions to the Palestinian problem. There are enough threads for that and anyway it is the usual “dignity and Palestinian cause” trick.

Mazen Says:

The subject is not democracy in Syria. And I have answered you many times over, but you do not seem to be reading what I write too well.

Democracy is very important, but it is not the only thing on the minds of most Syrians I know. It is not at the top priority, as it has been battered and abused as a term by perpetrators who use it very selectively as a stunning flashlight. Thanks to you and your friends, democracy has suffered and has joined the many good causes that are exploited to score political points but without genuine interest in them.

I will say again that talk about democracy coming from a main stream Israeli is especially not credible. I’ve asked you to acknowledge your “democratic” regime’s atrocities but you have consistently ignored the question.

To be more clear, I do not support the overthrow of the regime, which is what you’re after. I am for working with it to implement significant democratic changes. These changes will eventually come, but they will come from within.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

” I am for working with it to implement significant democratic changes. These changes will eventually come, but they will come from within.”

Ok, what is the first democratic change you are working on? What is your target for its implementation? Given the history of the Arabs, how do you know that the changes will come from within? Why is Syria different than Egypt and Saudi in this regard?

Mazen Says:

You know? you’re ignoring my questions, and I’m going to ignore yours. Besides, this is not the subject, and even if it were, I would probably not be discussing it with a main stream Israeli who does not have the courage to meet me half way.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
Meet you half way on what? We both agree on the need for democracy in Syria and that it is best that this would be accomplished without external interference. Why do we need to meet half way if we agree?

Mazen Says:

Please read above. It’s spelled out a half a dozen times.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Are you doubting that I want to see democracy in Syria?

AM Says:

AIG

I‚??m following your silly disgusting comments since the beginning of this page. It seems to me that you have a real problem in ‚??logic‚?Ě. You have such complex which I think that you have to check the closest psychiatrist regarding it! Man, the subject of this blog is about ‚??Syria‚??s Foreign Policy‚?Ě, try to contrast with me Israeli body, there is ‚??Syria‚?Ě which refer to a great country in the Levant, then there is the ‚??Foreign Policy‚?Ě of that great state, it means it‚??s International relations & strategies.

For some mysterious reason, these simple words & uncomplicated meanings are mutating once they reach you to a total different subject called ‚??Democracy in Syria‚?Ě !! Oh Blind me !! 14 replies from your majesty with 14 disabled function and a high level of incapability to understand the subject and remark it with your precious comments !!

Poor Mazen is trying time after time to explain to you what is self explained, but it seems that no matter whatever he or any other one going to say to you, you; from the next generation of cleverness, is going to say ‚?¶. Ahhh ‚?¶mmmm. Let me guess ‚?¶. Aha ! Is it Democracy ??! Yes It is !!! WOW man !!! I‚??m so impressed about your unique ingenuity !! Two things are infinite: the universe and your stupidity! and I’m not sure about the universe!

And you are describing Syria a ‚??police state‚?Ě ? Look who‚??s talking ?! I have seen so people with difficulties, however; I haven‚??t seen a person who had that much of complications, unfortunately indeed !!!

Then, for some reason who no one can predict it but God, you keep sinking in the ‚??Democracy‚?Ě subject (which is unluckily not the subject of the blog), and here is the Sunnis & Alawites issue! You keep searching ‚?? and Gosh! Man, you‚??ve done a great work Body -, a minority controlling the majority of Sunnis (by the way, are you Sunni ?), reaching to the 30,000 Jews (I guess they were 29799 Jews, could you please update me with your reference?), and ending with the wisdom of the wisdoms: ‚??Just ask Tlas & Bashar who killed Jesus‚?Ě ‚?¶‚?¶ An intelligent question which all the media in the World were astonished – and they still while I‚??m typing this report ‚?? to explain that richly statement !! DUHH !! ‚?¶. You have to look to their faces AIG, some of them are crying !! Others had fall down with a great stomach-aches ‚?¶ but wait a minuet, are they Laughing ?! Oh God ! They Are Laughing !! and that tears are exploding from their eyes !! Even that your master piece announcement was 4 days ago, but the guys in front of me are still laughing. Do you have an anti-laughing proclamation which can cured the one of the ‚??who killed Jesus‚?Ě ?!

I gtg now my friend. I really enjoyed talking to you; it‚??s my bad luck that I have to leave this amusing conversation. I wish to keep posting, keep commenting, about Democracy, or about Democracy, or even about Democracy if you want, you are Absolutely free to choose, keep trying, Don√®t Give Up, JUST Do IT !!

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

AM,
Let’s see what we have in your post:
1) Cursing
2) The two wrongs make a right argument and
3) Nothing else.

Bashar’s Jesus comment:
In May 5 2001, while greeting Pope John Paul II in Damascus, Assad suggested that Christians and Muslims make common cause against those ”who try to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality with which they betrayed Jesus Christ.”

Jews in Syria:
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/syrianjews.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Syria
(under Recent Times)

The Sunni Alawite aspect:
http://www.defense-update.com/newscast/1206/analysis/analysis-251206.htm

And please continue laughing. It is good for your health.

AM Says:

AIG;

Do you want me to send you websites about the Israeli racism ? the Israeli massacres ? the Israeli evil ? If you have a lack of information I can refresh your memory.

Is that our subject ? When you make fun about the writer of the article and all the other guys in this page, in each sentence, that means – according to your glossary – that you are a good negotiator and you are the man ! but when someone make fun about you, that means he is cursing you ! A typical Israeli attitude !

When the subject is about what President Assad said in May 5 2001, I‚??ll start to negotiate that with you. When the subject is about Sunnis and Alawites, I‚??ll take your comments in account. But when it‚??s about ‚??Syria‚??s Foreign Policy‚?Ě and you are so upset why are we not talking about Democracy, Assad Speech about who killed Jesus, and any illusionary Sunni Alawites conflicts, then I‚??m forced to laugh, I just can’t help it, and I’ll make fun about your comments because after 15 times, you are still trying your best to go the wrong way in the argument with no sense of the topic.

I can start attacking you and your entity for each line of the nonsense which you typed, I can argue about any topic but the Foreign Policy of Syria, and the result ? wasting my time and giving a bad image about the above article. I didn‚??t started commenting on your hallucinations till they reached a very low level, sometimes patients need high voltage shock to make their hearts work again as they supposed to be. If your comments were polite since the beginning, directed to the subject, trying to negotiate with the person who wrote the article to make a positive conversation, why shall I interfere ? I would be so pleased to see such mature dialogue. But since the beginning, your comments having an aggressive language, and such adamant mentality on the word ‚??Dimocracy‚?Ě, creating conflicts here and there, focusing on the exact wrong issues ‚?¶. What are you expecting from me then ?

Also, I’m still not understanding what ‚??Tlas‚?Ě is doing in your wisdom of the wisdoms ?! What & Where is the missing link ? What do you want to say, proof or disclose ? and what is the relation of all that nonsense with the topic of the article ?

And you want me not to laugh ?

Mazen Says:

AM,

Thank you for your defense. I think AIG is smart enough to get the message but he just does not want to engage in a real discussion.

AIG, you keep banging on the democracy issue, and yes, I’ve consented that it is very important and it is a weakness on our part and that it’s in the priority list of the most important issues Syria has to deal with.

What you are refusing to consent on is the horrendous crimes your governments have committed, even though it is “the only democracy in the Middle East”. Which is relevant to my argument that democracy has been damaged by parties using it as a PR stunt while not really interested in it. And if they were, it is not doing anything to stop them from committing crimes against humanity. Thus again my point that democracy is not at centre stage of the ordinary Syrian person.

At first I thought you were “another Israeli guy” who is self centered and sees nothing else on the earth and the moon except Israel. But then many of your comments are smart and well informed, yet, I think, not sincere.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
Israel and Israelis have committed crimes just as any other democracy in the world. As an example just consider what France did in Algier. It is not an excuse at all for ANY of Israel’s crimes. Two wrongs do not make a right. And we both know that many Arab problems stem from the Sykes-Piqot agreement which was made between the “enlightened” British and French. My point is that if you want to reject democracy based on the nationality of the person that sponsors it, you will not find any saints. In the end, it is just an excuse not to discuss democracy on its merits.

All democracies committed crimes (again this is not an excuse for any of these crimes, all were wrong). So what are you going to do, not pursue democracy in the Arab world because of it?

And believe me, Israelis are VERY interested in democracy in the Arab world. Because we know it is not peace with dictators that will bring us security, it is the emergence of a strong modern middle class in the Arab world that will bring prosperity and peace to the middle east. That will only happen if democracy is allowed to emerge. So democracy is the prerequisite for peace in the middle east.

Mazen Says:

Ok, now we’re moving somewhat.

France eventually left Algeria. I’m not going to ask you to do the same. But, are you at least prepared to meet the Palestinians half way? Are you prepared, as a “democracy” to acknowledge that you have committed crimes, and to start reckoning with those you have maimed?

We are both interested in peace. You want to see democracy on the other side. Fine. I want to see repentance and compensation. Do you agree to that? Are you prepared to try to undo some of the crimes that Israel has committed? Are you prepared to let the people who you have expelled at gunpoint return and share the Holy Land with you?

I take your point that democracy is essential. Do you take mine?

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
I believe that the Palestinians deserve compensation. But I believe that so do all the people involved in this conflict.
So:
1) Palestinians should get compensation
2) The 3 million polish Jews that were killed and all their property, their families should receive compensation
3) The 700,000 Jews escaping from Arab land should be compensated.
4) Etc.

If we want justice, let’s have a tribunal and any Palestinian or Jew can bring its claims for it. If we are going back 60-70 years for justice, let it be for everybody involved in this conflict. The Arabs, Europeans, Jews should all pay whomever they wronged. Palestinians and Jews will be the beneficiaries. That is only fair. I am against partial justice or justice only for the Palestinians. But read on, I will make some adjustment to this view in a moment.

As for the “right of return” it is not something that I am willing to consider at this point. In order to be moral, you first have to be alive. There is just no way it will work. It is not as if there is open space where the Palestinian villages were. You will have to move about half of the Israelis from their property. It just cannot happen in a democractic country where moving someone for a highway takes years. No Israeli would support such a move and I doubt that the Israeli supreme count would ever accept such a law in the super improbable case that the Knesset votes for it.

All this before we deal with the huge animosity there is between Jews and Arabs after the second intifada. There is currently zero trust between the communities at this point and the one state solution will lead quickly to a civil war. Just look how hard Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis etc find sharing a country between sects and tribes and multiply it by 100. It is not going to hold. If Belgium is not working, how will the one state solution hold as a liberal democracy? It will be chaos or tyranny.

Sometimes pragmatism trumps justice. I cannot revive 80% of my family which the Germans murdered. What am I going to do? Live with the hate forever? Who am I going to hate anyway? The son of a murderer is not a murderer, he is an inncocent person unless he commits a crime. And the pittance the Germans paid is not justice.

The Palestinian case is not exactly the same but it is similar. I am asking the Palestinians to accept monetary compensation in lieu of their land that was taken 60 years ago. If they do, I will support the Jews giving up what is due them from the European and Arabs in order to facilitate the process. I understand that they don’t view it as justice, but it is the best I can do under the circumstances. All other options are suicide from my point of view and as a Jew I would rather die fighting this time around if I have to die.

Mazen Says:

Well, firstly thank you for finally opening up and talking about the subject. and thank you in particular for consenting to compare what happened to the Palestinians with your own experience. True, the two cases are not the same, but they have similarities.

I agree to throwing the net as far as possible with regards to compensation although I view repentance as important if not more important, which is something you did not hint of. Second, please do not mix the Arabs with the Europeans. Doing so would be extremely self-centred and not fair at all. The Arabs did not do any harm to the Jews until the Zionist movement declared a state on Arab land. You would rather “die fighting this time” tells that you still view all non-Jews as goyem, lumping all “others” as one and the same. This is a self-centered view of the world that is just incorrect.

You use the fairy tale of “coming back” to Israel to justify shipping in Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Somali and I don’t know what other Jews that exist around the globe. Yet you refuse to grant the same right to the Arabs who are a generation or less away from their land (many are still alive.) You make life impossible for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in the hope that they will give up and leave. Some of your ministers suggest publicly to kick out all the citizens inside the green line as well. The list is long, and I don’t want to go through it. this is called double standards.

I am absolutely for the Arab Jews (Jews from Arab countries) to have the choice to come back to their countries of origin, or receive compensation if they choose not to give up their right. And if I were a Palestinian, I would never, ever give up my right to come back to my land. I know that most Palestinians do not and will not give up that right.

You blame the second intifada, but apparently refuse to see what causes a people to become so desperate and so angry that they will blow themselves up just to get at you. It is your own hands work, AIG. The approach is completely wrong: we want good lands, so we go and help ourselves to some and kill anyone in the way. Oh, and we need water, so we go and kill off the inhabitants there and get water. Oh, and we want defendable borders, so we round off the edges by a few more thousand Square miles. Oh, and the Golan heights are really beautiful, we’ll grab those too. What do you expect from those people? If you were born a Palestinian, what would you have done? Have you ever thought about that? You just said you’d rather die fighting. Why are you blaming them for an Intifada?

You may have thought about it, but you apparently brush it aside quickly. Hey, if I was born a cow, I would have been dinner too. Tough luck. End of story. Only, the Palestinians are human too, and humans are have the same rights: Germans, Jews, and Arabs.

It so appalling that a people who have suffered so badly at the hands of others, find so many excuses to inflict such atrocities to a weaker group. What have you learned?

Don’t blame God or the Universe. There are other options.

Isaac Asimov, who was my favorite author, and who as you know was Jewish as well, once said that it was the isolationist nature of the Jews that caused them the most of their suffering throughout history. I don’t recall the exact words, but they were to this effect. Can you tell me with a straight face that Israelis don’t think they are of a higher race (or value or blood) than the Arabs? You allow yourselves things that you do not allow them! Please do not deny that.

And when you are a racist colonial regime, you have but one option: you have to eliminate your enemy, or you lose. And this is what Israel has been trying very hard to do for 60 years, with some success in some cases, but with overall failure, because you cannot eliminate the enemy.

The Europeans were able to do it to the Aboriginals in North America and Australia, but not in South Africa for example. You cannot sustain the path you are on indefinitely. You cannot eliminate the Arabs and the Arabs will not give in to a racist enemy no matter how long it takes. Giving up the RIGHT to return is giving in to a racist aggressor who will not repent, and it will thus not happen.

This .. may be a little difficult to comprehend for an outsider, but I think by now you know and feel that I am not exaggerating. Tell me honestly .. are you surprised? You are finding that you are having to exert more and force, with more and more brutality to keep the lid down on the boiling pot. How long do you think you can keep this up? It is not sustainable, and you know it.

If I were born an Israeli, I think that I would at first see that my most important motive for a state was the security it was supposed to give me. In this case, the new immigrants coming in every year (with many of them only half Jewish or even non Jews) have no right and no need to be here. They are not prosecuted or threatened in any way in their countries of origin. Second, I most certainly would abolish the Zionist ideology which is so filled with racism and hatred toward the people it views as inferior. I guess, I could make this very moral move without risking my life, wouldn’t you say? Third, I will try to find ways to work with the Palestinians, with their genuine interest in mind, not subject them to the routine humiliation they are now suffering. You have Jew-Only roads for crying out loud! Forth, you have nuclear weapons, so you are no longer afraid of annihilation by any party no matter how powerful. Why do you have to destroy the entire region around you just to feel safe then? All Iraqis know the Israeli hand behind much of what’s happened, and now you’re nagging at the US to bomb Iran. How clever is that?

I can go on with this, but my point is, there is a LOT that I would do differently if I were a moral Israeli that wanted to right of a dignified life in this troubled piece of land. There is a LOT that Israel can do without risking its people’s security at all that it is not doing.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Mazen,
I feel you are sincere and are convinced of your position.
Read what I wrote again, I am not blaming anyone, only describing the situation and based on it trying to devise a method to move forward.

I disagree with many of your points but let’s cut to the chase:
I do not demand any Palestinian to trade the right of return for compensation. I would be delighted if it happens. If not, I am completely aware that I will have to keep fighting and am willing to die doing it. Why? Because history has no rewind button and my firmest conviction is that Jews must have control of their own destiny by having a Jewish state. Sometimes you have to die for whatever you believe and like other Israelis I will pay the cost if I am required.

I have thought long and hard about the conflict and its history and have gone out of my way to listen to what the other side has to say. I am satisfied that my position is moral and just. I also understand that others may interpret things differently. We may have another 100 or 200 or 300 years of conflict in front of us. That is a price that we as participants have to pay and must be willing to shoulder.

Mazen Says:

Fair enough. The Arab side will have to overcome a lot of internal issues before we can start to present ourselves in a manner that fear-bound Israelis will be able to trust. I believe that once that is done, it will be so good and balanced that you would not have to die nor to fight against it.

But that is at least 20 years away, in my estimate. Maybe much much more. At least we agree that we cannot have real peace at this time.

Meanwhile, you CAN do a LOT without too much risk. On this front, I’m afraid you are making grave mistakes and are not learning. This is not good.

abraham Says:

Mazen,

I’m sorry you had to be subjected to the typically nonsensical onslaught of comments from AIG. His premise seems to boil down to two main precepts: 1) Israel and Israelis are without fault, and 2) therefore all others must make the first move towards peace. Unless one is willing to accept these flawed arguments, trying to communicate with him is pointless and a waste of words.

As we have learned at Syria Comment, where he regularly posts balefuls of witless and enduringly circular arguments, it is best to simply ignore his comments, which are more intended to instigate endless arguments that lead to nothing, seemingly with the intention of wasting your time so you do not go off and do other productive things with your life.

LattakiaBoy Says:

Good discussion Boys and Girls, really interesting points of view. i would like to give AIG an explanation of why most if not all Syrian jews left, if I may.
First you have the offer from the US to receive Syrian Jewery without really any requirements. After the gulf war when emigration was allowed for entire families to leave, Syrian Jews have alot of relatives in the US and the possibility of living in the US and getting an american passport is a dream for most people living in 3rd world country. lets face it if that offer was given to non jewish syrians, the country would be empty.
Second yes I agree with you Syrian Jews were not very well treated by the regime, they were given “special protection” which really was suffocating for them, but you said it yourself, the regime is not a democracy and non jewish syrians had maybe abit better treatment but not complete freedom. People always watched what they said.
Israel in my opinion did not hep Syrian jewery one bit in their acts. I mean come on you have heard of Elie Cohen havent you? Elie Cohen for the one who don’t know was an Egyptian Jew who became an Israeli Spy. He pretended to be a syrian who came from Argentina. He soon became very well connected and really hurt Syria in the process. After Elie Cohen, the Syrian government was extremely paranoid and watched its Syrian Jews like they would one day turn on their country in favour of Israel. So really the Elie Cohen affair really hurt Syrian Jewery.
You would be surprised to see that most syrians do not misstrust Syrian jews and this is evidence by the continual business relations alot of them have with Syrian Jews in the US.
Now that Most jews left Syria, the head Rabbi at the time in Syria jajati moved to Israel most likely for religious reasons. So I think actions speak louder than words: maybe syrian Jews would have betrayed Syria if they did not have the “special protection”
Either way, For me I think Syria could have treated its jewish citizens better but as other commentators said, they are welcome back just as Syrians anyway.
Hope this gives you another Syrian perspective!

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

LattakiaBoy,

Thank you for providing another racist perspective. Because some Syrian Jews including the chief Rabbi came to live in Israel, you assume that the Jews would have betrayed Syria. What a racist generalization.

And because there was one successful spy who was and Egyptian Jew, that means that Syrian Jews should suffer.

With your “enlightened” attitude I understand better why Jews left as quickly as possible. You are the worst kind of racist, that kind that doesn’t even understand that he is racist.

LattakiaBoy Says:

Wow, I guess you completely missed the point! a racist? (didn’t think Judaism= race and not religion.) I didnt realize that ashkanazi jews were the same as the sephardim? so a jew coming from morocco is the same race as the one from Russia, Ethiopia or India! I guess it is my “racist” view points and not your zionist Brainwashing that is to blame. Sleekha!

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Well, you are an antisemite, if that helps you understand better. You are a bigot that generalizes about a population based on actions of a few in it.

And Judaism is a nation as well as a religion. As I explained elsewhere, I am an atheist Jew even if that is very difficult for you to understand.

LattakiaBoy Says:

antisemite??? i guess I am anti arab as well then? what is a semite? do I need to to tell you? who cares of you are an atheist or not! are you hinting because you are athiest it makes you more wordly or more reasonable? Nation= religion…sorry I dont buy it and only you likes buy it so some complex that you have. listen friend you cant turn every statement into an insult. Maybe you are used to the West’s way of arguing where if you call them antisemite or bigot it makes them shut up right away, but sorry we are in the middle east here and these little accusations don’t stick. so try another game.

Mazen Says:

Abraham,

Thank you for your comment, and sorry for the delay. I think you are right about AIG, but it nevertheless is good to talk to people of all orientations. Sometimes I have the feeling that people like AIG really believe in the “stuff” they’re on. Most of the time, however, I realize that people are usually smarter than that and they’re just using the platform like you mentioned.

Happy New Year.

Mazen Says:

LattakiaBoy,

Thanks for your comment, and sorry for the delay. I guess thanks are in order to AIG for exposing you as an Anti Arab and Anti Safe Sex bigot. Actually, once he throws the antisemitic accusation, it’s like the ejection button in a falling plane.

Happy New Year

Kiren Says:

WAR SHOULDD STOP!…its been going on for to long, should they think ” o after 54 years we are not getting anywhere” why cant they share it stupid

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